Violah Jepchumba winning the 2016 Birell Prague Grand Prix (© organisers)
Violah Jepchumba produced the second fastest 10km performance in history at the Birell Prague Grand Prix, an IAAF Gold Label Road Race, on Saturday (10).
The 25-year-old Kenyan clocked 30:24, just three seconds shy of the 30:21 world record set by Paula Radcliffe in 2003. Jepchumba's performance is an African record, supplanting her compatriot Isabella Ochichi's mark of 30:27 set in 2005.
"I was very close to the world record so maybe next year I'll return (to try again)," said Jepchumba, who arrived in the Czech capital as the third fastest ever over both the 10km and half marathon distances, performances that came in the Sportisimo Prague Half Marathon on 2 April when she clocked 1:05:51 after passing the 10km checkpoint in 30:29 en route.
This time, start time temperatures pushing 30C (85F) seemed to suggest a slower performance, but Jepchumba wouldn't let the conditions alter her ambitions.
At first, those included an assault on the 30:55 course record set by Peres Jepchirchir last year, a difficult enough task in a race without pace setters or any stiff competition.
Jepchumba stormed on alone, reaching the midway point in 14:46. The aggressive first half could have cost her the world record, even though the soft-spoken runner admitted to organisers that she didn't know what the record was. She does now.
Joyceline Jepkosgei of Kenya made her road debut over the distance an auspicious one, finishing second in 31:08. Afera Godfay of Ethiopia was third, clocking 31:49 with Gladys Cherono, the 2014 world half marathon champion, fourth in 31:58.
Kipyatich prevails in close men's contest
In the men's contest, Abraham Kipyatich upset a strong field en route to his first road race victory of the year, clocking a world-leading PB of 27:40.
A quick 13:46 first half by a four-man lead pack – Kipyatich, Kenneth Keter, Mathew Kimeli and Emmanuel Kipsang – kept the 27:28 course record in sight.
Heading west on the north side of the Vltava River, the pack was joined by Daniel Wanjiru, the winner of April's half marathon in the Czech capital, as the racers careened downhill towards the government parliament headquarters. It was then Kipyatich sprung his surprise.
Aided by the downhill, the 23-year-old Kenyan pressed the pace and kept the heat on through the descent, the turn-around, and the climb back towards the Stefanik Bridge. Wanjiru took up chase trying to match the leader surge-for-surge but was forced to settle for second in 27:43, also a personal best.
Kipsang was third, another four seconds back.
Bob Ramsak and organisers for the IAAF